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Microsoft promises to keep app stores open to ease consolidation concerns

Windows maker says it will never force PC users to go through its own app stores, will have Call of Duty on PlayStation past existing deals

Microsoft today committed to a series of Open App Store Principles intended in part to calm concerns about the company's growing role and ease regulatory concerns about the pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

The company said the policies -- detailed in full below -- apply to the Microsoft Store on Windows and "the next-generation marketplaces we will build for games."

A selection of the policies are also going to be applied to the Xbox ecosystem and storefront, although Microsoft drew a distinction between platforms that "have become essential to our daily work and personal lives" like smartphones and computers and platforms dependent on a closed ecosystem to turn a profit because the hardware is sold at a loss, as with consoles.

Alongside the principles, Microsoft committed to making Call of Duty and other titles from the publisher available on PlayStation even beyond their existing agreements. It further expressed a desire in "taking similar steps to support Nintendo's successful platform."

"Ultimately, we believe that this principled approach will promote a more open app market and better serve our users and creators alike," Microsoft president and vice chair Brad Smith said in announcing the principles. "And, in turn, they will help us build a bigger and better gaming business.

"We know that we'll likely need to continue adapting these types of principles as we move forward. We're dedicated to the constant change a demanding world not only requires but deserves. In our view, this is all part of the future. And we embrace it."

The full list of principles follows below. The first seven will be implemented on Xbox consoles as well as the Microsoft Store for PCs.

Quality, Safety, Security & Privacy

1. We will enable all developers to access our app store as long as they meet reasonable and transparent standards for quality and safety.

2. We will continue to protect the consumers and gamers who use our app store, ensuring that developers meet our standards for security.

3. We will continue to respect the privacy of consumers in our app stores, giving them controls to manage their data and how it is used.

Accountability

4. We will hold our own apps to the same standards we hold competing apps.

5. We will not use any non-public information or data from our app store to compete with developers' apps.

Fairness and Transparency

6. We will treat apps equally in our app store without unreasonable preferencing or ranking of our apps or our business partners' apps over others.

7. We will be transparent about rules for promotion and marketing in our app store and apply these consistently and objectively.

Developer Choice

8. We will not require developers in our app store to use our payment system to process in-app payments.

9. We will not require developers in our app store to provide more favorable terms in our app store than in other app stores.

10. We will not disadvantage developers if they choose to use a payment processing system other than ours or if they offer different terms and conditions in other app stores.

11. We will not prevent developers from communicating directly with their customers through their apps for legitimate business purposes, such as pricing terms and product or service offerings.

Alongside those principles, Microsoft also made the following specific commitments.

• We will continue to enable developers to choose whether they want to deliver their apps for Windows though our app store, from someone else's store, or "sideloaded" directly from the internet.

• We will continue to give developers timely access to information about the interoperability interfaces for Windows that our own apps use.

• We will enable Windows users to use alternative app stores and third-party apps, including by changing default settings in appropriate categories.

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